10 UALR students will attend Clinton Global Initiative University

Ben Levie, Cory Gray, and Steven Detmer are one of three student teams who were selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University April 1-3 at the University of California-Berkeley.

Ten students from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have been selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University to present ideas to combat global challenges. This year’s event will be held April 1-3 at the University of California-Berkeley.

This marks the first year UALR has joined the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Network, a growing consortium of colleges and universities that support, mentor, and provide seed funding to student leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs who are developing solutions for some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

“The goal of this initiative is very much in line with our role as a university,” said Dr. Zulma Toro, UALR executive vice chancellor and provost. “We aspire to have more and more students involved in this type of work, work that will benefit international and local communities. The scope of the projects that our students are working on is impressive. These are projects that will impact the university and other countries like Nicaragua.”

One of the student teams attending CGI U is working with Water Wishes, Inc., a nonprofit organization that introduces clean water solutions, to design and build a water pump that will provide access to clean drinking water in a rural village in Nicaragua.

“Instead of having someone go to the water source each day to get a fresh bucket of water, this pump will allow a continuous source of water without fuel and electricity,” said Ben Levie, a UALR senior majoring in mechanical engineering who is participating in CGI U. “It will allow the villagers to not have to worry about retrieving water and filtering it.”

UALR is providing $10,000 in funding for nine students from three teams from the College of Engineering and Information Technology and for one individual. All were invited to attend CGI U, an annual meeting of more than 1,000 students who created plans to address issues in education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

The UALR students will be accompanied by Dr. Andrew Wright, a UALR associate professor of systems engineering who is serving as the faculty liaison.

“We would like to see the students learn how to take their ideas to implementation,” Wright said. “Part of implementation is developing funding and partnerships. Interacting with other like-minded students will help them build their partnerships, develop their ideas, and develop ways to get funding for their projects.”

Levie is looking forward to attending the conference so his team can meet advisors and learn about funding to expand their project.

“This conference gives us the potential to take the project farther,” Levie said. “There are many other places we could put this pump. With Clinton Global Initiative University, we could potentially help so many other people.”

The event was founded in 2007 by former President Bill Clinton after the success of the Clinton Global Initiative, through which global leaders convene to implement plans to combat global challenges.

The UALR students who will attend CGI U and their projects include:

  •      Cory Gray, Steven Detmer, and Benjamin Levie who are working on an accessible water project to provide access to clean drinking water for rural villages in Nicaragua by creating a water pump that does not require electricity or gasoline to operate.
  •      Alroy Avance, Phillip Portoni, and Nongsiej Pynchailang who are creating an automatic ventilation system that could replace a range hood, automatically detecting smoke to prevent small residential kitchen fires.

  •      David Ray, Samuel Shelton, and Kari Payton who are creating a compact and portable aquaponics system that will integrate with a semi-automated greenhouse, creating an environment where fruits and vegetables can grow throughout the year.

  •      Kalan Horton is implementing activities to improve outcomes for minority students participating in the African American Male Initiative peer mentoring program at UALR.

For more information, visit the CGI U website or contact Dr. Lillian Wichinsky, UALR’s CGI U program coordinator and interim executive director of the UALR Community Connection Center, at lcwichinsky@ualr.edu.

In the upper right photo, Ben Levie, Cory Gray, and Steven Detmer are one of three student teams who were selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University April 1-3 at the University of California-Berkeley.

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